August 6, 2019
Imagine this … you and your spouse arrive home after a long day and try to make a connection. Soon you hear about frustrations at work or home … the challenges of the boss and parenting … and all of the activities that need to be attended.
Somewhere in the midst of your whirlwind conversation, you slowly lose concentration and begin to tune out. You look down at your phone, and let your mind wander to what’s on the screen. You might think your spouse doesn’t notice, but she/he does. When we lose eye contact and stop verbally engaging our spouses quickly get the feeling that we don’t care and that there is something more important on our minds.
Being a good listener is something we all struggle with because generally speaking husbands like rapid fire bullet points while wives like to mine the intricate emotional details. This makes communication challenging. So, when we fail to listen well to our spouses … we set ourselves up to experience some serious consequences. Here are 4 of them:
1. Our spouses can become distant.
When we don’t carefully listen to one another’s thoughts and feelings our spouses will begin to feel unimportant and rejected. If this becomes a regular habit … our partners will shut down and stop sharing so they don’t feel the pain of rejection any more.
2. Our spouses can become indifferent.
Another way spouses respond to not being heard is to become indifferent. If our spouses don’t expect us to listen … they will start believing that we don’t care and will stop expecting anything from us. This is critically dangerous because it amplifies our partners’ feelings of emotional abandonment from us and their contempt for us.
3. Our spouses can lose their desire for all intimacies.
Once our spouses shut down and become indifferent, they quickly lose desire for all aspect of intimacy with us. When our mates lower their expectations about verbally connecting with us they will ultimately diminish their expectations regarding all other aspects of your relationship. Our unwillingness, or inability to connect emotionally, will lead to a lack of physical desire in their relationship too, which leads to the devastating last consequence.
4. Our spouses can shift their focus to other relationships.
When our un-listened to spouses don’t feel connected to us … they will ultimately seek out connecting with others who are willing to bond with them. When they aren’t receiving affirmation from us, they will turn to others to fill that need. This may mean they share more of what’s going on in their lives with their friends or co-workers instead of you. Or this may mean they look for reasons to stay away from home to spend time with those who are willing and eager to listen. When we stop listening to our spouses … we are setting the stage for an emotional affair.
So, how do we keep these damaging consequences out of our marriages? Stay engaged … keep your eyes focused on your spouse … give him or her some verbal and visual affirmation that you are tracking. Say back to them what you hear them say and how they feel. Move closer to your spouse physically to help you focus and to show that you want to hear what your partner has to say.
Work hard to become a better listener … it will make you a better spouse … and give you a better marriage.